Mrs White welcomed the stranger into the house. The man did not look happy. He stood silently and Mr and Mrs White waited quietly for him to speak.
After a while the man started. ‘I’m from…’ he said but stopped. He looked at the floor and moved his feet. He started again. ‘I’m from Maw and Meggins… the factory in town…’
Mr and Mrs White recognized this name immediately. Their son, Herbert worked at Maw and Meggins.
‘Is there something wrong?’ Mrs White asked suddenly. ‘Did something happen to Herbert? What is it? Tell me.’
‘Please, dear,’ said Mr White. ‘Sit down for a moment. We do not know anything yet. Perhaps this man has good news for us.’ Mr White looked at the man, but the man looked sad. ‘I’m sorry,’ the man said. ‘I have bad news. Your son is badly hurt, but he is not in any pain.’
Mrs White started to speak: `Thank God for that. Thank…’ she said, but then she stopped and looked at her husband. His face was very sad. Suddenly, she understood. Her mouth dropped open, but no noise came out. Mr White slowly reached out and took his wife’s hand.
`Herbert…fell into the machinery,’ said the man in a low voice.
`Fell into the machinery,’ Mr White repeated quietly. He squeezed his wife’s hand and looked out of the window. No one spoke and a heavy silence fell over the room. Mr White held his wife’s hand tightly. When he spoke again, his voice was weak. ‘He was our only child,’ he said. ‘Our poor, poor boy.’
The man nodded and walked to the window. `Maw and Meggins want me to tell you…’ He stopped. The next words were difficult for him to say. `Well, they are very, very sorry.’
There was no reply. The old woman’s face was white and the old man’s eyes were red and tearful. But the man had to continue. `Maw and Meggins want you to know…that they are not to blame for the accident, but…they will pay money to you – as compensation.’
The old man stood up. He looked afraid. `How much money?’ he asked.
`Two hundred pounds,’ the man from Maw and Meggins said.
Mrs White screamed and a moment later, she fell onto the floor.
adapted by eflshorts.com
welcomed – said hello, greeted
immediately – at once, without delay
pain – discomfort, uneasiness
machinery – machines for producing goods
tearful – full of tears
compensation – money award to someone when there has been an accident